Our Beautiful World

The mollymawks, Thalassarche
Black browed Albatross, Thalassarche melanophrys  
Chatham Albatross, Thalassarche eremita
Grey-headed Albatross, Thalassarche chrysostoma

Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross, Thalassarche chlororhynchos

Black-browed Albatross, Thalassarche melanophrys
Photo: Mila Zinkova

The Mollymawk albatrosses, Genus Thalassarche

The mollymawks are a group of medium sized albatrosses that form the genus Thalassarche. The name has sometimes been used
for the genus Phoebetria as well, but these are correctly called sooty albatrosses. They are restricted to the Southern Hemisphere,
where they are the most common of the albatrosses. They were long considered to be in the same genus as the great albatrosses,
Diomedea, but a study of their mitochondrial DNA showed that they are a monophyletic taxon related to the sooty albatrosses,
and they were placed in their own genus.

Mollymawks have the largest range in size of all the Albatross Genera, as their wingspans are 180–256 cm. Mollymawks have
what has been described as gull-like plumage, with dark black backs, mantle and tails and lighter heads, underwings and bellies.
The heads of several species are often slightly darker grey, or have dark around the eyes. They all have a colorful pinkish flesh
stripe from their gape to their ear that is shown during displays. They have distinctive bill structure and coloring which makes for
easier identifying than other Albatross. The bills of mollymawks are either brightly coloured orange or yellow, or dark with
several bright yellow lines.

The name mollymawk was coined in the 17th century from the German rendering of the Dutch Mallemugge, which meant
mal - foolish and mok - gull.

Thalassarche chrysostoma RED LIST Gråhodealbatross Grey-headed Albatross
Thalassarche melanophris RED LIST Svartbrynalbatross Black-browed Albatross
Thalassarche bulleri RED LIST Hvitpannealbatross Buller's Albatross
Thalassarche carteri RED LIST Crozetalbatross Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross
Thalassarche cauta RED LIST Svartflekkalbatross Shy Albatross
White-Capped Albatross
Thalassarche chlororhynchos RED LIST (chlororhynchos) Gulnesealbatross ? Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross
Thalassarche eremita RED LIST (cauta) Chatham Albatross Chatham Albatross
Thalassarche impavida RED LIST (melanophris)   Campbell Albatross
Thalassarche salvini RED LIST (cauta)   Salvin's Albatross
Thalassarche steadi RED LIST   White-Capped Albatross

Black-browed Albatross, Thalassarche melanophrys,

The Black-browed Albatross, Thalassarche melanophrys,
is a large seabird of the albatross family Diomedeidae.
It is an endangered species on the IUCN Red List, but is the most widespread and common albatross.

The subspecies T. m. melanophrys breeds in the Cape Horn area, the Falkland Islands
(mostly Steeple Jason and Grand Jason islands), South Georgia and in the Indian Ocean sector
on Crozet Islands, Kerguelen Islands and Heard Island and McDonald Islands.
The Campbell Albatross (T. impavida) was formerly believed to be a subspecies of this species.

Black-browed_Albatross, Beagle_Channel, Argentina

The Black-browed Albatross is a medium-sized albatross, at 80-95 cm (32-38 in) long
with a 200-235 cm (79-93 in) wingspan and an average weight of 3.7 kg (8.2 lbs).

Like the other albatross species known as "mollymawks",
it can be distinguished from the Wandering Albatross by the wholly dark upperwings,
dark tail band and smaller size.


The features that identify it from other mollymawks are the dark eyestripe which gives it its name,
a broad black edging to the white underside of its wings, white head and orange bill, tipped orange.
In young birds the underwings are darker, the head grey and the bill grey, tipped black.
They are similar to Grey-headed Albatrosses but the latter have wholly dark bills
and more complete dark head markings.

The Black-browed Albatross is circumpolar in the southern oceans.
It is the most likely albatross to be found in the North Atlantic due to a northerly migratory tendency.


Although this is a rare occurrence, on several occasions a Black-browed Albatross has summered
in Scottish Gannet colonies (Bass Rock, Hermaness and now Sula Sgeir) for a number of years. Ornithologists believe that it was the same bird, known as Albert, who lives in north Scotland.
It is believed that the bird was blown off course into the North Atlantic over 40 years ago,
and it is suspected that the bird is over 47 years old.

ARKive video - Black-browed albatross - overview
Black-browed albatross - overview
BBC Natural History Unit

From The TimesMay 9, 2007

Photo: Robert Vaughan

The lonely albatross looking for love in all the wrong places
Lewis Smith, Environment Reporter
A lovelorn albatross has begun its annual search for a mate,
little realising that it has been looking in the wrong half of the world
for the past 40 years.

The black-browed albatross, named Albert by sympathetic twitchers,
should be courting in the South Atlantic but has, once again,
been seen on a rocky outcrop between the Outer Hebrides
and the Shetland Isles.

A similar incident took place in the gannet colony in the Faroe Islands island of Mykines,
where a Black-browed Albatross lived among the gannets for over 30 years.
This incident is the reason why an albatross is referred to as a 'Gannet King'
(Faroese language: súlukongur) in Faroese.

Chatham Albatross, Thalassarche eremita

Chatham albatross, Thalassarche eremita

This bird is a 90 cm medium-sized, black-and-white albatross with dark thumbmark at base of leading edge of underwing.
Adult has dark grey crown, face and throat. Dark grey upper mantle. Grey-black back, upperwing and tail. White rump.
White underparts with black thumbmark, narrow leading and trailing wing edges, and wing tip.
Yellow bill with dark spot at tip of lower mandible.
Similar spp: Slightly smaller than White-capped Albatross T. steadi that has a grey-yellow bill and pale head;
Salvin's Albatross T. salvini has a smaller, darker bill and silver-grey cap.

Range & population Thalassarche eremita breeds only on The Pyramid, a large rock stack in the Chatham Islands, New Zealand. Aerial photographs indicated that the breeding population was between 3,200 and 4,200 pairs, but ground counts between
1999-2003 and in 2007 revealed c.5,300 occupied sites.
(Now also found on Snares Islands, see below)

Eggs are laid September-October, hatching November-December and fledging in March-April.
The earliest recorded breeding age is seven years, but birds return to the colony at the age of four.
It usually nests on rocky ledges and steep slopes. At sea the species appears to be largely pelagic, showing less preference
for waters along the continental shelf than congeners. Diet
The diet has not been well studied but it is thought to feed mostly on cephalopods and fish.

Text above:
BirdLife International (2010) Species factsheet: Thalassarche eremita. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 8/9/2010

Chatham Albatrosses: no longer Criticilly Endangered?
Photograph by Graham Robertson, Copyright©2009 ACAP

The Snares Islands lie south of New Zealand. They support sizable breeding populations of Buller's Thalassarche bulleri
and Salvin's T. salvini Albatrosses. In addition, a single pair of Black-browed Albatrosses T. melanophris has been reported
incubating and with a young chick in different years on Toru Islet in the Western Chain.

A Chatham Albatross was photographed incubating an egg on the western face of Rima Islet on 13 October 2008.
In the same month a Chatham Albatross was observed incubating on Toru Islet, with at least three other birds present.
Previously this species has only been recorded breeding on Toru in the Western Chain (one bird incubating in 1995),
although birds have been reported ashore on Rima . During September/October 2009 a Chatham Albatross was observed
incubating an egg on Toru. Its partner was confirmed as a Salvin's Albatross.

Incubating Chatham Albatross on Rima Islet, Snares.
Photograph by Matt Charteris
, Copyright©2009 ACAP

Snares Islands

Snares Islands seen from the north-east, with Broughton Island on the left and Dapton Rocks on the right

Snares Islands/Tini Heke (also known as The Snares) is a small island group approximately 200 kilometres south of
New Zealand's South Island. The Snares consist of the main island North East Island and the smaller Broughton Island
as well as the somewhat isolated Western Chain Islands approx 5 km (3.1 mi) to the WSW.
As a group of islands, the Snares cover a total of approximately 3.5 km2 (1.35 sq mi).

Snares Islands, standing on the North Eastern End, looking South - across Punui Bay, Ho Ho Bay, Mollymawk Bay
then Broughton Island - the southernmost wooded land - in the distance

The islands are home of endemic bird species such as the Snares Penguin, Eudyptes robustus, and the Snares Island Snipe
(Coenocorypha aucklandica heugli) as well as several endemic invertebrates. North East Island is forested and is the world's
premier breeding area for the Sooty Shearwater (Puffinus griseus) with up to 3 million individuals being present during the
breeding season (November-April). A dangerous reef (Seal Reef) lies ten kilometres to the south of the group.
Megaherb communities grow on the islands.

A megaherb community on Campbell Island, one of the sub-Antarctic islands of New Zealand.
The yellow flowers and strap-like leaves are Bulbinella rossii, the Ross Lily,
while the pink flowers are those of the Campbell Island Carrot, Anisotome latifolia.

Some flower clusters can be up to 60 cm wide and 1,5m tall.

Text for Snares Islands: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snares_Islands/Tini_Heke

Grey-headed Albatross, Thalassarche chrysostoma

Thalassarche chrysostoma
Photo: Ben Phalan, British Antarctic Survey

The Grey-headed Albatross
, Thalassarche chrysostoma, also known as the Grey-headed Mollymawk, is a large seabird from the albatross family. It has a circumpolar distribution, nesting on isolated islands in the Southern Ocean and feeding at high latitudes, further south than any of the other mollymawks. Its name derives from its ashy-grey head, throat and upper neck.

The meaning of the name chrysostoma is derived from two Greek words. Khrusos' means gold and stoma means the mouth, in reference to its golden bill.

The Grey-headed Albatross averages 81 cm (32 in) in length and 2.2 m (7.2 ft) in wingspan. Weight can range from 2.8 to 4.4 kg (6.2 to 9.7 lb), with a mean mass of 3.65 kg (8.0 lb). It has a dark ashy-grey head, throat, and upper neck, and its upper wings, mantle, and tail, are almost black. It has a white rump, underparts, and a white crescent behind its eyes. Its bill is black, with bright yellow upper and lower ridges, thatt shades to pink-orange at the tip.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grey-headed_Albatross

Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross, Thalassarche chlororhynchos

Photo: Steven Chown

The Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross, Thalassarche chlororhynchos, is a large seabird in the albatross family.
This small mollymawk was once considered conspecific with the Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross.

The Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross averages 81 cm (32 in) in length.
It is a typical black and white mollymawk with a grey head and large eye patch,
and its nape and hindneck are white. Its bill is black with a yellow culmenicorn and a pink tip.

It can be differentiated from the Indian Yellow-nosed by its darker head. Relative to other mollymawks
it can be distinguished by its smaller size (the wings being particularly narrow) and the thin black edging
to the underwing, The Grey-headed Albatross has a similar grey head but more extensive and less well defined
black markings around the edge of the underwing.
Salvin's Albatross also has a grey head but has much broader wings, a pale bill and even narrower
black borders to the underwing.

This mollymawk feeds on squid, fish and crustacea.

Like all albatrosses they are colonial, but unusually they will build their nests in scrub or amongst
Blechnum tree ferns. Like all mollymawks they build pedestal nests of mud, peat, feathers, and vegetation
to lay their one egg in. They do this in September or early October, and the chick fledges in late March to April.
They breed annually.

Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatrosses nest on islands in the mid-Atlantic, including Tristan da Cunha
(Inaccessible Island, Middle Island, Nightingale Island, Stoltenhoff Island) and Gough Island.
At sea they range across the south Atlantic from South America to Africa between 15° S and 45° S.
All text above from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Albatross on a walk-about

(Photo: Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre)

On August 12th, 2010, officials at a wildlife centre in eastern Ontario, Canada, are saying goodbye
to an unusual visitor, as Alby the yellow-nosed albatross is being shipped off to Boston.

For the last month, a caregiver at the Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre in Napanee, Ont., has been nursing Alby back to health while experts scratched their heads over how he managed to get so far off course.
This type of albatross is usually found only in the Southern Hemisphere.

When Alby arrived at the wildlife centre he weighed only half his normal weight.
Notice the typical yellow nose!
(Photo:Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre)

Alby was discovered on a beach on Wolfe Island, off Kingston, Ontario. He was weak and emaciated,
weighing only half of his normal two or three kilograms.

They all will be sad to see the albatross go, but that he needs an environment where he can properly
heal before returning to his native South Africa.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/ottawa/story/2010/08/12/ot-albatross-leaving.html#ixzz0wz8fFCZS

ARKive video - Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross - overview

Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross - overview
BBC Natural History Unit

ARKive video - Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross - overview
Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross incubating egg and with newly hatched chick in nest
Ross Wanless and Andrea Angel
Percy FitzPatrck Institute of African Ornithology
University of Cape Town


Breeding Population and Trends

Location Population Date Stable
Gough Island 5,300 pair 2001 Stable
Tristan da Cunha Island 16,000 - 30,000 pair 1974 Stable
Nightingale Island 4,500 pair 1974 Declining
Middle Island 100 - 200 pair 1974  
Stoltenhoff Island 500 pair 1974  
Inaccessible Island 1,100 pair 1983 Declining
Total 55,000-83,200 2001 Declining

The IUCN list this species as Endangered, with an occurrence range of 16,800,000 km2 (6,500,000 sq mi) and a breeding range of 80 km2 (31 sq mi).
According to the table above, this adds up to between 27,500 and 41,600 pairs per year
for the total between 55,000 and 83,200 total adult birds.
This population estimate was done in 1983, however and is outdated.
Trends suggest a 50% decrease over 72 years

The largest threat is from longline fishing, as harvesting of chicks and adults has been outlawed.

This part, Conservation, is from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


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